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Raising Money for Collections Projects

Funding collection and storage projects isn’t easy. They aren’t as glamorous as sponsoring an exhibition or having a gallery named after you.

So you have to dig deeper to find the right fit to raise money for collections projects.

Some museums have made collection storage and open-gallery space. A more public component of storage might be more attractive to a potential donor. Of course, this model does not work with every collection or at every museum. For example, some collections should be kept out of the light as much as possible, and you can’t have a dark room open to the public!

And what if most of your collection just doesn’t “look good” on open shelving? What then?

Finding the right “fit” is extremely important. For example, why not ask your local Red Hat Society or Woman’s Club for help in re-housing your hat collection in acid-free materials? Or maybe a local car dealership would sponsor the restoration of that fabulous antique vehicle in your collection.

You may have overlooked your own artifact donors as a potential funding source for collections. True, they have already been generous by donating an object instead of trying to sell it. But they are also probably unaware of how expensive it will be for your museum to care for their item over the long haul.

A little knowledge goes a long way. Most people don’t understand how things work behind-the-scenes in a museum. Once they understand why you need acid-free materials and metal shelving, you can start to cultivate a potential donor for collections projects.

Launching an Adopt an Artifact program is a great way to educate your donors about the liability associated with building an artifact collection.

The following is the text from my museum’s Adopt-an-Artifact donation form. I send one to each donor with their Deed of Gift. Very rarely does someone send me a huge check, but a lot of small donations do add up!

* * * * * * * * * * * *

A primary part of our Mission Statement is to collect and preserve the history of Stark County, including the life and career of President William McKinley. Ideally, each artifact in our collection should be housed in an acid free box and wrapped in acid free tissue. Other storage needs include new shelving in some of our storage areas, polyethylene bags for small artifacts, B-72 Acryloid Lacquer (an archival product used to number the artifacts), archival cleaning materials, and padded hangers for textiles. With over 30,000 artifacts to care for, it is quite expensive to make sure each artifact is safely housed in the proper storage materials.

But you can help!

Your tax deductible donation to the Adopt an Artifact Program will help pay for the care, maintenance, conservation, and storage of our Permanent Collection. You can name an item of your choice -- a piece of glass, a wedding dress, an antique tool, a McKinley campaign ribbon. Or you can let us decide.

Any amount is welcome and appreciated. You will be listed in our next newsletter as a proud member of the Adopt an Artifact Program!

Thank you for helping us to preserve the history of our community, and the memory of the 25th President of the United States.

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Content copyright © 2013 by Kim Kenney. All rights reserved.
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